Education, preparedness help save lives from heat illness

The Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (SCCAHS) is partnering with other U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers to share critical information for farming, fishing and forestry industries in a campaign to prevent heat illness and deaths in agriculture.

The University of Florida is the lead institution of SCCAHS, partnering with the University of South Florida, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Emory University and the University of the Virgin Islands.

Summer 2017 Beat the Heat, a campaign sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/CDC, will help employers and safety specialists prepare for the agriculture season by educating operators and workers. 

Farming, fishing and forestry workers are at particular risk for heat illness because of exertional heat stress. Like athletes, during hard work, heat is built-up in the body. This, plus the external (environmental) sources, can cause heat-related illnesses. Heat illness occurs when the body can no longer cope and the body’s physical and mental functions break down.

Most important to know is that heat illnesses and deaths are preventable. Key information on the following topics will be available during the Beat the Heat campaign at the National Ag Safety Database (

    • Signs and symptoms
    • Preparedness
    • Personal risk factors
    • Emergency response

In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness, and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and regional studies at the US NIOSH Ag Centers show that agricultural work, especially crop workers, has one of the highest rates of work deaths from heat.

The US Ag Centers have prepared a collection of safety resources reflecting the theme of 2017 Beat the Heat Week. Visit the National Ag Safety Database for fresh ideas and educational materials in English and Spanish about how to stay safe while working in farming, forestry and fishing.

The Beat the Heat campaign will also share tips and safety reminders on Facebook and Twitter. Join the movement to #BeatHeat, #HeatSafety, #PrepareforSafety, #USAGCenters, #KeepFarmsSafe and share your own safety messages.

Download the press release.